Every year, the first weekend of March, Arnold Schwarzenegger brings his Sports Festival to Columbus, Ohio. It’s an incredible opportunity for Columbus and the state since as it brings in many celebrities and fitness lovers. As someone into health and fitness, I’m happy there is such an event right in my backyard.
The first thing you notice when walking into the Columbus Convention Center is the crowds. It is very crowded. However, that’s nothing compared to the actual expo part of the Arnold Sports Festival. It is wall to wall people. I mean that quite literally. Getting from point A to point B (even the restroom) can take several minutes and some real effort. I’ll say more about the crowds in the context of the free stuff later in the review.
The second thing you notice when going to the Arnold Sports Festival is the high number of fit men and women walking around. In many cases they are a part of the staff in some way, but there are a ton of them. It’s actually pretty cool, not just because it’s eye candy, but because it’s inspiring. In an age of rising obesity and sedentary behaviors, it’s good to see men and women who’ve taken it to the next level.
The expo (fifteen dollars advance; twenty at the door) itself is pretty amazing. There are a ton of vendors and various activities, ranging from MMA fights to fencing, going on. Some of these, however, require separate admission and are in different locations. I personally like to get free stuff and learn about new products. The Arnold Sports Festival Expo is perfect for this. I now have many free samples of protein powders, pills, water bottles, and magazines. In addition, the day I went, I didn’t even eat breakfast. The samples of bars and drinks were enough.
The Convention Center also has a coffee shop for those of you needing a break from the crowds or a caffeine boost.
The biggest downside is the crowds. They really do limit the amount to swag a person is able to accumulate and slow you down, even to get from place to place. If you don’t like crowds, this is definitely NOT the place for you.
In most cases, free stuff required an email address. And, lots of people signing up their emails takes a long time. Some of the lines were at least an hour wait, if not more. And, there was little indication of what exactly each place was giving away. So, it was a long wait for a possible letdown. However, a few places had some pretty good stuff with a short wait.
As someone who is really into fitness, but not so much the bodybuilding side, was it worth it? Absolutely. It was great seeing and talking to all the beautiful fitness models and sampling a good deal of products. But, you have to be prepared to fight crowds and lines to get the best stuff. If you have issues with crowds and little patience, stay away. Otherwise, it is really fun, especially if you go with friends. And, make sure to hit the restaurants and other venues at the nearby Arena District. My favorites are the Big Bang Piano Bar (with dueling pianos that take requests) for entertainment and The Mongolian Grill for food.
Personally, the best part about the Arnold Sports Festival was that it energized me to continue to pursue a fit and healthy lifestyle.